Pompey Win Hogg Race

January 25, 2011 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Transfer News 

Last year’s Premier League bottom club Portsmouth have secured the loan signing of Jonathan Hogg until the end of the season, fending off interest from Championship rivals Leeds and Middlesbrough in the process. The 22-year-old’s Villa, and indeed football career, was in serious doubt in recent times after sustaining a string of serious injuries. However, a loan spell at Darlington last term and impressive performance in the reserves were enough to see Houllier bring Hogg into the starting XI at Villa Park due to injury absences of Reo-Coker and Petrov. He made his league debut against Manchester United in the 2-2 draw, catching the eye with an assured and tireless display. Since then the no-nonsense defensive midfielder has continued to remain unfazed at the top level though returns from injuries and the signing of Jean Makoun have limited his chances at Villa Park. His decent early form was enough to earn him a new long-term contract with the club and now he will head south for what will hopefully be a valuable run in first team football at a highly competitive level. Houllier was keen to praise the midfielder and hopes that the new deal will be of benefit for both parties, stating: “Jonathan has competed very well in the games he has played this season and this loan move will greatly assist in his career development.”

Young Guns Hope for Derby Date After 10-1 Reserve Rout

January 11, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Villa Reserves & Academy 

Reserve team returns for long term absentees Andy Weimann and Gary Gardner saw the latter complete a man of the match performance in an astonishing 10-1 victory over Arsenal’s second string. MacDonald’s youngsters were in deadly form and reached double figures with 5 goals in each half after Arsenal were reduced to 10 men early in the game. Austrian striker Weimann, out of action since a trip to Rapid Vienna early in the season, hit the post in the opening minutes in what proved to be a sign of things to come. Gardner scored the first after 11 minutes before Arsenal had a man sent off shortly after. Gardner then turned provider for subsequent goals from Weimann before crossing for Baker to head down for Chris Herd to score a first in what would prove to be a hat-trick display from the midfielder. Baker then headed down another Gardner cross for Hogg to score before Gardner got a second of the game to complete a first half lesson for the Gunners. Herd got his second midway through the second period from a Forrester corner after the youngster was introduced to replace Hogg at the break. Man of the match Gardner was then withdrawn for Ellis Deeney and may well have earned himself a place in Sunday’s derby squad. Delfouneso then joined the act, tapping home a Weimann cross before grabbing a second shortly after substitute Durrell Berry assisted. Arsenal scored what is surely the most meaningless consolation goal of all time before Herd completed his hat-trick and Weimann bagged a second on his return with minutes to spare. In total 3 for Herd, 2 for Delfouneso, Gardner and Weimann and 1 for Hogg. A fantastic display from Gardner, taken off early, could well set him up for a place on the bench with the possibility of facing brother and former Villan Craig Gardner when Villa make the short trip to St Andrews on Sunday. A hat-trick for Herd and braces for both Delfouneso and Weimann could see Houllier opt for a youthful bench against the Blues. 10-1 against a decent, young Arsenal side begs the question, are the reserves better than the first team squad!

Aston Villa vs Liverpool Pre-Match Predictions

December 5, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Pre-Match Predictions 

Here are my predictions for this Monday’s game with Liverpool. I’m equally optimistic and pessimistic ahead of the match which will see Houllier return to Anfield. An uncertain defence of late doesn’t look like keeping a clean sheet any time soon against a Liverpool team who made a host of chances against Tottenham last week. On a positive note Agbonlahor looked sharp against City and we dominated the game despite defeat so I think we will get a few chances against a Liverpool defence devoid of Carragher and Agger. I’m hopeful of returns for Cuellar and Albrighton but may well be wrong! What do you think will be the score and who will feature in tomorrow night’s 8pm kick-off?

Possible Starting XI: Friedel; L Young, Dunne, Cuellar, Warnock; Albrighton, Clark, Hogg, Downing; Ireland; Agbonlahor

Key Man: Gabby Agbonlahor

Goalscorer(s): Agbonlahor, Ireland

Minute of First Goal: 53

Final Score: 2-2

Liverpool vs Aston Villa Match Preview

December 5, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Match Previews 

Monday 6th December 2010

Opponent: Liverpool

Venue: Anfield

Kick Off: 20:00

Gerard Houllier will make an emotional return to Liverpool in Monday night as he takes his Villa side to Anfield in desperate search of a win. The Frenchman will no doubt have had his eye on this fixture since moving to Villa and his ties with the club are just one of a number of potential reunions. Houllier’s No.2 Gary McAllister was brought to the club by the manager is a playing capacity and in a short stint with the club the Scotsman became a cult hero. Among the playing staff to have plied their trade in Merseyside include Brad Friedel, Stephen Warnock and Emile Heskey, though the striker is unlikely to feature through injury. Extended Match Preview

Hogg and Gardner Sign New Contract Extensions

December 4, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Transfer News 

Jonathan Hogg has become the fifth product of the Villa academy to commit his long-term future to the club in recent months. After a torrid time with injuries the workman-like central midfielder has turned his Villa career around and earned a new two-and-a-half year deal with the club. Hogg has started 4 games thus far for Houllier’s side including impressive performances on his Premier League debut in the 2-2 draw with United and a battling display at local rivals Birmingham. The 21-year-old has not been overawed in some massive games for the club and his sufficiently impressed the new manager for him to hand Hogg a new contract. Hogg joins the likes of Ciaran Clark, Barry Bannan and Marc Albrighton to sign long-term deals with the Villa youngsters offering a glimmer of hope in what should be a bright future after hard times of late. In other news 18-year-old midfielder and brother of former player Craig, Gary Gardner has also signed a new contract with the club. Gardner is returning to fitness after a lengthy spell on the sidelines with cruciate ligament damage stunted a youth season in which he had managed an impressive 14 goals from the centre of the park. The England Under-20 international is hoping to follow the likes of Hogg into the first team and has earned himself a new a contract extension until 2014.

Aston Villa Performances Overshadowed by Dismal Results

December 3, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Match Reports 

After a day to grieve over what was really a hit and run from the Blues on Wednesday I have had time to reflect and collect my thoughts! It seems at the moment that Aston Villa cannot buy a win and if you can find me a manager whose new job has started with worse luck then Gerard Houllier I’m all ears. A dominant and much improved performance from the forgettable 0-0 draw at Villa Park last month still saw Villa knocked out of the League Cup. A Semi-final with West Ham awaited which almost had me sobbing into my lonely corner of shame as Villa looked to build on their Final appearance last season. Without sounding too much like a broken record, Villa couldn’t really have been missing many more players once again against the Blues though a goal-scoring return did give us fans something to cheer. Still, poor defending in the first half and a lack of cutting edge meant that all Villa’s possession and passing football came to nothing in a 2-1 defeat at St Andrews.

Extended Match Report and Ratings

10 Games in: Gerard Houllier’s Record and Review

Many neutrals and Villa fans had their doubts over the appointment of Gerard Houllier 2 months ago but how has he really done in his opening 10 games at the club. The pessimistic may have seen the choice of the Frenchman as somewhat of a sideways step after his tenure at Liverpool was left on a low point with the Anfield club. Despite this, Houllier had a terrifically successful spell at the club leading them to Community Shield, UEFA, FA, League Cup (x2) and Supercup glory, a feat which has surpassed any of his successors at Liverpool. After health issues seemed to stunt his progress with the club, many in the Merseyside remember Houllier as a negative and uninspired tactician as he looks to answer the critics who doubted him. Villa have had a stop-start season to say the least and some impressive performances and results have been overlooked due to the sides current inability to close out games. Here is why I believe the new manager has done a decent job in his opening 10 fixtures and why Villa should not be counted out of a European finish. In-depth Managerial Review

Arsenal Reserves 0-2 Aston Villa Reserves

November 2, 2010 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Villa Reserves & Academy 

Kevin MacDonald’s men built on their decent run of form, following up a win over Midlands rivals Wolves, with a comfortable 0-2 victory over Arsenal. The former caretaker manager took a strong squad with him to London with first team members such as Brad Guzan, Eric Lichaj, Marc Albrighton, Barry Bannan and Nathan Delfouneso all in the starting XI. It was Delfouneso who broke the deadlock on the half hour mark stretching his impressive form in front of goal for the reserves and pushing himself into Gerard Houllier’s plans. With Villa severely lacking in fire power recently the talk has been of bringing in a new striker, one begs the question why are only proven goal-scorer at any level hasn’t been given a chance in the first team as of yet. The 19-year-old was supported superbly from either flank by Marc Albrighton and Samir Carruthers with the former setting crossing for the latter to head home Villa’s decisive second. An impressive performance, in a game which the away side dominated for much of the encounter. Reserves Match Report

Happy Days as the Fonz Topples Rivals Wolves

Kevin MacDonald’s reserve side continued their decent form, stretching their unbeaten run to five games with a 3-2 victory over Wolves. The second string came from behind for the second game on the trot in front of on-looking manager Gerard Houllier. Villa found themselves 1-0 down at the break but an amazing second half saw the home side run out victors. The two line-ups could have easily been placed in an early cup round with seasoned professionals on either side. The Villa side included the likes of Guzan, Cuellar and Sidwell supported by promising youngsters such as Barry Bannan and Nathan Delfouneso. Read more

Clark Open to Ireland, Reserves in Action with Newcastle

Villa youngster Ciaran Clark has opened the door for an international career with the Republic of Ireland. The Villa reserve captain has represented England at all youth levels and even skippered the Under 20’s side but has revealed he would encourage a call up from Ireland. Team-mate and fellow centre back, Richard Dunne recommended the young talent to the recruitment team at the FAI after only recently finding out that Clark was eligible for the Emerald Isle. Ciaran qualifies through his Mother and may well look to ensure an international career by opting to play for Ireland over England. In my opinion this would be a big loss to the England national side as the centre back seems to have all the qualities to be a top player. Dunne has waxed lyrical about the 21 and believes that Ireland would manage a real coup in tempting Clark to ditch England. Villa Reserves vs Newcastle

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